Today I woke up like the rest of you VR lovers out there, excited, hopeful and with a little bit of apprehension to hear Palmer Luckey’s big announcement letting us know that the Oculus store is a go for pre-orders and just how much they would cost; and, like I am sure most of you were (and still are), I was a little surprised when I seen just how much it was going to cost me. $599 US dollars is no small chunk of change (my own preorder was $920 Canadian) and at nearly twice the cost of the DevKits, it isn’t hard to see why so much of the VR community is abuzz with accusations of foul-play; but is that kind of a stance really warranted?
Sure, Palmer and Nate may have made some comments a year or two ago that they didn’t expect the Rift to be much more (if at all) then a DevKit. Sure, there were some comments made about how $600 would be too much to expect people to pay (and for the record, the price is still technically not that high right?).
But the fact remains, new technology is generally expensive! And this is Virtual Reality!
As this pcworld article that Reddit user /u/-SD- posted explains, even the lowly Sony CD player was nearly $700 (that’s over $1500 in today dollars) when it first released. Also, the initial cost of the iPhone that we all know (and some of us love), was the same price as the consumer Rift ($599 for an 8GB model), on contract!
Ok ok, so some of you will be saying “that isn’t the point!” and “What? They told us it would cost was so much less! They duped us!!” and while you might be rightfully upset (I know I was, a little), unfortunately sometimes things change. I know that’s not much consolation, but when you take into consideration that most of those early comments by Oculus regarding price were made before anybody could really expect anybody else to know exactly what would happen in the future, and the fact that Palmer has been telling us that the consumer version would be “more than $350” since September, I think a little understanding is in order.
First of all, nobody could have predicted that VR would take off the way it has and with other companies like HTC and Valve offering up their own competitive hardware, it is quite possible that Oculus had initially planned on releasing something a little lesser in the bells and whistles department (perhaps something a little closer to Crystal Cove, or Crescent Bay) and after seeing what their competitors were planning on doing decided to ramp up their R&D, push back the dates a little, and strive to bring something even better to the table. Such an idea is all purely speculation on my part of course, but I would be willing to wager (no, I won’t eat my shoe) that when March rolls around and Rift reviews start rolling out, people are not going to be disappointed.
Now, how does all of that fair for the Adult VR industry? Nobody can really be sure until (and if) Oculus decides to drop some figures regarding just how sales have gone, and even then it’s still a waiting game. I think it’s a fair bet to say that we aren’t likely to see mass adoption anytime within the next 3-5 years, but there are still cheap(er) VR options out there like Google Cardboard and the much more technically-imbued Gear VR for people to fap with and the word is certainly out there now more than it has ever been. So long as there are horny people, there will be content to match it. So I think it is a reasonable bet to assume we will only see things getting better from here.
Of course, this is all only my opinion and yours might be different. Let me know just how you think the high cost of the Rift will effect Oculus and we can have a little palaver on whether or not there will be trouble.
Oh, and before I forget, Palmer himself will be doing an AMA on Reddit tonight at 6pm PT (Pacific), so make sure you are there so you can ask the man any questions you may have yourselves.